UAE: Can I get a traffic fine for eating or drinking while driving?

Distracted driving accounted for 13 per cent of all fatal accidents in the country in 2021, ranking it number three in causes of fatal accidents



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Mon 16 Jan 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 16 Jan 2023, 5:24 PM

Distracted driving is a key ingredient of accidents, and many factors can distract motorists while driving including eating, drinking and smoking, in addition to the usage of mobile phones.

It’s fairly common among UAE motorists to have a cup of coffee or a bite to eat while at the wheel, especially in the mornings, when people are rushing to reach their workplaces on time.

In the UAE, distracted driving accounted for 13 per cent of all fatal accidents in 2021, according to data from the Ministry of Interior, ranking it number three in causes of fatal accidents.

The Integrated Transport Centre of Abu Dhabi took to Twitter on Sunday to highlight how eating or drinking while driving increases the chances of getting in a car accident by a whopping 80 per cent.

"Lower accident rates are associated with higher focus when driving. We hope everyone stays safe," Abu Dhabi's transport regulator posted on Instagram

Navandeep Matta, a Dubai-based legal consultant, said distraction has been given a wide connotation and is covered by the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No.178 of 2017 rules and procedures.

He said a distraction could be anything that prevents a motorist from focusing on the road, and traffic signals such as using mobile phones, browsing the internet, texting, and taking photos or videos while driving. Moreover, motorists can get distracted while eating as it makes the motorist inattentive while driving.

Since eating or drinking could distract drivers, Matta said motorists could face a Dh800 fine and four black points for eating, drinking, smoking, or applying makeup while driving.

“It is advised to the motorist to keep both hands on the steering wheel and avoid any activity which hinders their focus on the road and traffic signals while driving,” he said.

Two-thirds get occasionally distracted

Thomas Edelmann, managing director, Road Safety, UAE, said a study found that 38 per cent of drivers aged 18-24 years old in the UAE get occasionally distracted.

“We need to watch out for the potential mistakes of others! The one in three drivers who fail to focus their full attention on the road are at risk of injuring themselves, their passengers and other motorists,” Edelmann said, adding that research revealed that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds while driving at a speed of 100km per hour means that people are effectively driving blind for 55 metres.

Top 10 distractions for UAE drivers:

1. Behaviour of other drivers

2. Passengers speaking to you

3. Changing the radio

4. Adjusting the air conditioning

5. Poorly behaved children

6. Complex road systems

7. Road signs

8. Using a mobile phone

9. Reading maps/satellite navigation

10. Reaching for objects in the car

Source: Road Safety, UAE

The study found that drinking and eating while driving distracts 20 per cent of motorists.

“Eating and drinking did not make it into the top 10, but any source of distraction can be potentially fatal and must be considered important… Eating and drinking involve manual, visual and cognitive distractions. This means we take our hands off the wheel, our eyes off the street and our attention off the happenings around us!,” said the managing director.

How not to get distracted

According to the research, Edelmann said drivers favour a range of methods to aid concentration and stay focused on the roads, including listening to the radio, drinking caffeinated drinks, speed cameras and police presence. The single biggest factor in being able to concentrate, however, was being alone while driving.

“Raising awareness of driving distractions is important to improve the level of road safety in the UAE. Driving distractions play a role in motorists swerving lanes, driving too close to the vehicle in front, misjudging traffic situations and other leading causes of road accidents. It is important for motorists to be consciously aware of the many sources of distraction,” he said.

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